Scott Neuman

CEO, Kaluza

Scott Neuman is CEO of Kaluza, the energy software company enabling energy utilities to engage their customers in the energy transition and accelerate the shift to zero carbon. 

Scott joined Kaluza from Oracle, one of the world’s largest enterprise software companies, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of Opower. Oracle acquired Opower for over $500 million in 2016 following its IPO and, under Scott’s leadership, the technology business reached 30 terawatt hours of residential energy savings through utility partnerships – equivalent to powering approximately 3 million homes for a year on green energy.

Before joining Opower, Scott spent five years at McKinsey & Company consulting to highly regulated industries. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School which he received after attending Stanford University and coding at early stage Silicon Valley startups. Scott lives in Washington DC with his wife and young children.

1. What values are most important to you as a leader? 

1. Structure problems

Don’t jump to solutions until you’ve really come to understand the problem and broken it down into fundamental parts. Otherwise, how do you really know you’ve got to the root of it?

2. Don’t shy away from big bets

There’s a lot of inertia behind the way things have been done – you have to be willing to disrupt (and take the heat) if you want to unlock real change. In my experience, life near the bullseye is a lot more fun than hiding in the shade anyway! 

3. Showing emotion about the things that matter is a strength, not a weakness

Great leaders inspire belief around an audacious vision…I’ve found this is hard to pull off with data and logic alone. Showing you care and are deeply passionate is critical in winning over hearts and minds. 

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My father, who I appreciate more and more as I get older. From his days as a Naval Captain before becoming an extremely successful lawyer, he routinely found joy in work while also ensuring it didn’t dominate life at home. 

But more than anything, my father is a survivor. He fought cancer despite a bleak prognosis and twenty years on, serves as an ever present reminder to stay happy, hopeful and thankful. 

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

Don’t make assumptions – test everything. 

Back in 2012, my team and I were scaling Opower – a start up which offered white label energy efficiency solutions to energy utilities. Not surprisingly, at that time, every business was racing to digitize and we would have done the same, but for A/B testing. 

Through testing, we validated the importance of sending paper based mailings (in addition to emails) to utility customers. This decision wasn’t what we expected – physical mail just felt so antiquated – but it ended up shielding us from competition while driving unrivaled business impact. 

4. What would you tell your younger self?

I’d discourage my younger self from just settling for a paycheck. Instead, chase opportunities that channel passion and drive lasting impact. It’s a heck of a better recipe for waking up energized in the morning (though I still enjoy a good cup of coffee).

To make this actionable, I’ve come to lean on the “barbecue test” later in life. In short, be wary of pouring yourself into work you wouldn’t be excited to share with family and friends at a barbecue. 

5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?

Hire athletes over expertise. In general, I bias to betting on winners over directly relevant expertise. There are exceptions, but I’ve found those with a habit of winning (and insatiable hunger for it) tend to find a way when others default to an established playbook. 

Another important lesson I’ve learned is to be wary of elevating kindness over honesty. Recognize that even great people stumble, and they crave constructive feedback that comes from the right place. I’d argue that championing kindness over honesty can actually prove unkind over time – limiting the opportunities for development and trust-based relationships.